Do you cook with your kids? My son has been in the kitchen with me since he was a newborn sitting in his bouncy chair. Now that he’s a little older, the fun is just beginning. Cooking with children can be messy, but I promise you, cooking together as a family is well worth the time and effort.
When we teach a child to cook, we are empowering them to take charge of their own nutrition and helping them grow into healthy adults. People who know how to cook, eat better because they don’t have to rely on prepared meals or fast food to survive. And did you know that children are more likely to try a new meal if they help prepare it?
Nutritional benefits aren’t the only reason to get cooking with your kids. Cooking helps children build self-confidence and completing a recipe gives them a sense of accomplishment. It’s also a great way to develop and expand math, science and reading comprehension skills. Cooking can also be a great way to introduce children to new cultures via international cuisines.
How to Make Cooking with Kids a Success:
- Choose the right time of day: make sure the kids are well rested and in a good mood (after naps if the kiddos are still young) and don’t start a cooking project when you are in a rush to get dinner on the table
- Select an age appropriate recipe: starting with a simple recipe (if the kiddo is young and new to cooking) will ensure a positive cooking experience for all.
- Preview the recipe: you want to see what steps your child can tackle independently and what they’ll need your help with.
- Go over safety rules: make sure your child knows what’s ok to touch and not ok to touch, how to use a knife properly (if age appropriate for your kiddo) and the proper hand washing techniques to keep everyone safe and healthy.
Age Appropriate Recipe Ideas:
Nursery School Age. At this age kids love to measure, mix and roll. Working in the kitchen with younger kids is a great way to help them develop their fine motor skills. Have them help mix cookie dough batter or roll out pizza dough. Homemade frozen pops are also a great first recipe. Simply have them measure fruit juice and pour into molds.
Pre-School Age. No-bake recipes (see granola bar recipe listed below), smoothies, salad dressing (whisking is always a hit), fruit salad and sandwiches are all great recipes to tackle with a pre-schooler.
School Age. At this age, kids can be given more responsibility in the kitchen. You can work on knife skills and some more advanced cooking techniques. Go to the library and take out international cuisine cookbooks. Have them read the recipe to you and measure out the ingredients on their own.
Teens. If you started cooking with your kids when they were younger, by the time they are teens they should be fully capable of preparing a meal on their own. Work on more advanced recipes and cooking techniques and dive deeper into international cuisines.
No-Bake Chewy, Maple, Almond, Chocolate Granola Bars
Makes 10 bars
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup rice cereal
1/4 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1. In a small saucepan, heat butter, honey, maple syrup and brown sugar over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Lower heat and simmer mixture for 1-2 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, combine oats, rice cereal and almonds. Pour butter mixture over dry ingredients and stir until everything is well combined. Using a rubber spatula, press mixture into an 8×8-inch square pan and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle on chocolate chips and gently press down with a rubber spatula. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Cut into 10 equal rectangles and serve.
Tip: Use a plastic sandwich bag on your hand to press the mixture into the pan. it will prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands.